France’s Veolia Environment said on Sunday it was launching an offer for all of Suez, valuing the group at 11.3 billion euros ($13.6 billion), after dropping efforts to win the backing of the waste and water management company’s board.
Suez has been resisting takeover moves from Veolia, its long-standing competitor, which is now its biggest shareholder with a 29.9% stake.
Months of court battles and tit-for-tat manoeuvres are set to enter their most ferocious phase yet, however, after Veolia rolled back on a commitment to get approval from Suez’s board before launching a full cash tender offer.
That pledge arose when it bought the Suez stake in October from Engie, a utility that counts the French government as a top shareholder. The state had urged both parties to seek a friendly way out.
Veolia said it was launching its 18 euro-per-share offer after its boss, Antoine Frerot, met Suez Chief Executive Bertrand Camus on Friday. Camus, who has long favoured finding an alternative suitor for Suez, gave no sign he would change his mind, Veolia said.
“Over the last four months, Suez has multiplied actions intended to obstruct Veolia’s offer proposal,” Veolia said.
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